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Sometimes you really have to dig deep to find something of great value in that genre once coined „New Age“, crammed with wrong nirvanas and boring heavens. If heaven actually is a place where nothing really happens, the music of Jordan De La Sierra´s „Gymnosphere“ might be a place of constant wonder: a lot is going on here (in a very silent way) – lonesome notes drifting endlessly through a sacred space. As we know, sacred spaces often are a big deal for long reverberations. Call Eno´s classic „Music For Airports“ a (very) distant relative, and you´re close.

 

The desert has always been a place for inspiration, from Harold Budd to Giant Sand, and Polar Bear´s new album „Same As You“ is no exception. Though it starts with some Woodstock mysticism, invocations of light and love, don´t hesitate to surrender to the overall flow of the six tracks. A wonderful mix using field recordings without any resemblance to the usually „holy desert  sounds“, the album is captivating from start to end. Arthur Russell would been totally enthusiastic about this work of art. The dancing, joyful lines of the two saxophones add to the excellent mix of the primal, the melodic and the experimental. So this may be one of England´s finest contributions to the American „West Coast“-culture ever, known for relaxed moods, skilled studio musicians – and even Sonny Rollins once wearing a cowboy hat.

 

„A Most Violent Year“ is a fantastic movie, a time travel to New York City, 1981 (the year Eno and Byrne created „My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts“, in Manhattan), shot with late 70´s vibes and colors, and, nevertheless, likewise oldfashioned and inventive. That´s saying a lot about a genre movie linked with gangster syndicates, archetypal anti-heroes from another era and the usual suspects from the old „New Hollywood“. The gist of the matter: J.C. Chandor is really doing fine in creating a new skin for an old ceremony. At times with breathtakingly slow speed, packed with the devil in the details (beware of the soundtrack, sparse and subtle), and, one of the most thrilling chase-scenes since Cary Grant had been attacked by a small aeroplane in „North By Northwest“. Chandor knows when it´s time to speed up. Pop corn fodder? Not at all, more of a descent into the underworld (in the psychic sense of the word). For example, within one single shocking second, you are transported from an overcrowded tube train to a deserted, ghost-like station (in the middle of NYC) – a good place to meet the inner demons.

 

And coming to terms with your own demons, you might want to enter the sceneries of the „Thriller of  April“. I´m still running through the last hundred pages, and, as you know, you shall not sing the praise of day till the last ray of light has vanished from the sky, and darkness surrounds you with all horror or relief delivered on the last page. Will the story linger in your mind, or is it just a cheap thrill and utterly forgettable? Wait and see. Manafonista Wolfram recently recommended an ancient thriller by Chester Himes. That book might be the other option. Himes can compare in quality to Chandler and Hammett, and he clearly is commenting on and developing their novels, plots and style. The past remains a treasure grove. But you can easily be trapped by it. Chester Himes, and J.C. Chandor luckily know the exit signs.

 


 
 

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Honour Your Error As a Hidden Intention“. A kind advice of Brian Eno in his Oblique Strategies. Or did he write that note in „old English“? My first error was the wrong speaking („Aussprache“) of Sebastian Rochford’s band „Polar Bear“ (like it would be „beer“ from the Arctic circle.) My next small mistake was the one concerning Joachim Kühn’s lost masterpiece „This Way Out“ (from 1973) – Daniel Humair contributed to the music, but Jenny-Clark was not yet part of the production – instead Peter Warren and Gerd Dudek were playing with fire. This slightly uncorrect memory led (on the day after) to a very special phone call, and ended up with an invitation to Ibiza. More about this at the end of this week, for all the good reasons!

I mean: Ibiza! Leonard Cohen had been there a long time ago, charging up his batteries and spending time with his former girlfriend Marianne (and, to risk another mistake: wasn’t the photo on „Songs From A Room“ shot in his house on the island?). Or  was it on Hydra? Anyway, there are still some great spirits living their quiet lifes on that Balearic island.

By the way, and for everyone not so familiar with German language: I was a bit sarcastic when speaking about the new work of Brad Mehldau –  his „groovy record“. A missed opportunity in many ways, for sure, and a highly overrated album! But the fun is: I never would have thought that, within the thematic frames of the JazzFacts magazine from the Deutschlandfunk – and in the context of my „thumbs down“ review of Mehldau’s wrong-footed attempts of „Taming The Tiger“ (the title of his work) – the names of the wild Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh and „Easy Rider“ Dennis Hopper would ever come out of my mouth.

Besides, I want to thank Bert Noglik for his closer view on Joachim Kühn‘ forthcoming „Birthday Edition“, and Sven Töniges‘ special encounter with that „house-keeper“ from Baku (I could really imagine the big hall in which he was hitting the „drums“ of his piano. Ask Mr Hawkins: on the liner notes of his brilliant solo album „Song Singular“ he refers to the 88 „drums“ of his piano creating a kind of „orchestral approach“.)

So drink a glass of your favourite red wine – or ice cold beer from Reykjavik – and enjoy these 55 minutes that may, in the best sense, satisfy your appetite for time travelling including a short trip to the age of „space jazz“! Good night, and good luck! (m.e.)

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„The cover was made by Craig Keenan and was based on a picture he had done that really gave me a strong feeling, and what I was looking for with the album cover, I wanted it to have a very human feel to it. This album is very much for me about your relationship to the heart and instinct, and the album cover for me is someone observing their heart. I really love the cover that Craig made, felt right to me.“

„I listen to a lot of underground dance based music, and this has influenced me in all the different ways you can create a sound world and atmosphere in the recording and mixing process, also too in the way of changing my drum kit, using different sounds to merge myself more with John’s (Leafcutter John’s; M.E.) sounds. Also I have been influenced by really old recordings of classical indian music and jazz that has a beautiful and distorted rawness to them.“

‚The main thing for me though with this album was that it needed to feel right to me, almost in a tactile way, so from the point of mixing and recording the album I just followed my instinct on what was giving me the right emotional feeling and disregarded what might be technically correct. The tune „Lost In Death“ is about sometimes when you need to make strong decisions to change your life, there is a period where you haven’t entered the new but are no more in the old so there can be a feeling of almost being lost – so the „death“ part is just meaning a death of an old part of you.“

 

(excerpts from Sebastian Rochford’s email concerning two questions of mine about Polar Bear‘ s forthcoming album „In Each And Everyone“. Listening  to it has had such a deep impact on me. Brian Eno would call it „Where-am-I“-music. Keep in mind that the album will be released on March, 21 in Germany, and on March, 24 in England and elsewhere. I don’t want to use the common phrase too easily of the album being „an early contender for the jazz album of the year“, but it is definitely, sorry to say this, an early contender for one of the most adventurous allbums of the year. M.E.) 


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